Parents, Miracleman, Escapo

07/06/2014 12:00 AM

07/07/2014 1:01 PM

Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant?: A Memoir. Roz Chast. Bloomsbury USA. 240 pages. $28.

Parenting your parents is probably about as much fun as it sounds. Chast, a veteran New Yorker cartoonist and mainstay of the magazine since 1978, tells the torturous tale of her colorful yet almost stereotypical parents, and their decline and demise, in this hilarious and heartrending volume. We already know that Chast is funny and smart, but her amazing versatility and long-form agility is the true revelation of this visceral and highly enlightening tale.

Miracleman Vol. 1 A Dream of Flying. “The Original Writer,” Mick Anglo, Garry Leach, Alan Davis. Marvel. 176 pages. $29.99.

The long-awaited collection of the ’80s relaunch of a British knockoff of the American Captain Marvel (Shazam!) was the victim of failed publishers, conflicting copyright claims and skullduggery. Plus, the creator of the reborn character, Alan Moore, wants nothing to do with his progeny, so he’s credited here as “The Original Writer.” Despite all the machinations, this lovely restoration of a forgotten hero who finds himself and changes the world holds up well and is a fun read — and almost worth the wait.

An Age Of License. Lucy Knisley. Fantagraphics. 208 pages. $19.99.

Sort of a sequel to her previous autobiographical work Relish, Knisley travels to Europe, finds romance, meets friends, hangs out with her cool mom and her pals, and takes in the sights. Knisley is a good artist and entertaining storyteller, and her rather typical tale rises well above the mundane.

Sex Criminals Vol. 1. Matt Fraction, Chip Zdarsky. Image. 128 pages. $9.99.

Fraction veers between creator-owned and corporate properties — the staggeringly good multiyear stint on Marvel’s Iron Man marks one of that staid character’s best runs, and his own Casanova, Satellite Sam and Five Fists of Science are state-of-the-art. This new series is wildly imaginative, randy and true with characters whose sexual satisfaction freezes time and facilitates crime. Artist Zdarsky’s staging, storytelling and character designs make this even crazier. Great fun!

Andre the Giant: Life and Legend. Box Brown. First Second. 240 pages. $17.99.

This bio of the wrestler and actor pulls few punches. Its warts-and-more depiction of the French-born figure’s odd life is ably illuminated by Brown in a stylized but engaging manner. You won’t know the full story, but what’s here provides quite a few shocks and surprises.

FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics Vol. 1: The Paradigm Shift. Simon Oliver and Robbi Rodriguez. Vertigo. 160 pages. $9.99.

The Federal Bureau of Physics ensures that there aren’t any quantum mishaps, gravity disturbances, wormholes or other anomalies. Sometimes they’re successful and sometimes not. As a government agency, the FBP is subject to bureaucracy, politics and infighting, but Oliver and Rodriguez present a surprising and plausible setting for the straight-faced but outrageous science fiction action and adventure, with memorable characters and insane settings.

Crime Does Not Pay: City of Roses. Phil Stanford. Patric Reynolds. Dark Horse. 112 pages. $19.99.

Many creators attempt to emulate classic film noir through comics, a likely medium, since the succession of darkness, light, panels and pages can replicate the cinematic experience. Great theory, though leaden dialog, hackneyed plots and cardboard characterization seem to be the rule. But the team of Stanford and Patric deliver a punch of gritty goodness, with a suitably sleazy story, wonderfully wretched characters and fluid, moody art. It’s not for everyone, but I liked it a lot.

Escapo. Paul Pope. Z2 Comics. 160 pages. $24.99.

This energetic, life-and-death story predates Pope’s Battling Boy, but in many ways it’s a deeper, wiser and more emotional work. The title character, a circus escape artist, battles death itself (naturally), while facing the vagaries of love and other mortal challenges. Its original publication is long out of print, and remaining copies trade for big bucks, but this lavish new edition presents Pope’s audacious strokes in their best light.

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